You might well think that a hammer is a hammer. They can be different sizes, weight, even made from different materials, but they all look similar and have the same basic purpose.

To whack things – not the most technical description, but you get the gist.

This simple hand tool is made up of a handle and head, and depending on the type of hammer, one or more wedges keeps the head attached.

Metal handled hammers are often a single piece, and composite handles are usually glued to the head. Although these have much less chance of loosening compared to a wood handle, they can break with heavy use.

It’s all in the grip How to Hold a Hammer

Long-time Tool Maniac please don’t be offended, some tool maniacs reading this have only just discovered their own secret.

That they’ve been tool maniacs all along.

And anyway, when hammer-time comes along even experienced woodworkers can go wrong with the wrong or weak grip. The most common mistake is to hold it too far up the handle which’ll rob the hammer of any power, and without power the hammer is basically useless. Even the pretty ones.

To get the most out of each stroke of the hammer, you should hold the handle near the end. But not too tightly, a white-knuckle grip will quickly tire your hand out. For less power.

Whacking is fun, obviously, but there’s a wide range of hammers for different jobs.

Claw Hammers

This is what most people think of when they think of a hammer. But even claw hammers can be divided into two types; curved claws, and straight claws.

Curved-claw hammers are designed to remove nails and straight-claw hammers to pry things apart.

Using the wrong hammer for the job will turn a straight forward task into a real pain. So use the right tool for the job.

You also need to consider the weight of the hammer. How much power do you need it to have? A heavy hammer will drive nails faster, but the extra weight will also wear your arm out faster.

Warrington Hammers

These lighter-weight hammers are great for for driving in finish nails and small brads. And can protect delicate fingers by using the side of the head to get short, small brads started. Once it’s in a bit, flip the hammer head to drive in the brad. Another unique feature of this tool is you can drive nails in tight spaces.

And you can get them in different sizes to fit the job.

Ball-Pein Hammers

This is often thought of as a metal work hammer, but every wood worker will heed it sooner or later. Sometimes called an engineer’s hammer has a standard flat face on one end and some type of rounded pein on the other.

Deadbolt Hammer

A fascinating hammer that allows you to knock wood joints together or apart without denting the wood pieces you’re working on. The head is usually hollow and filled with sand or small ball bearings. This allows the energy in the strike to be distributed over a longer period of time and reduces rebound.

The BIG ONE

I couldn’t do an article on hammers and not mention the big lads – Sledge Hammers. Some would say that this article shouldn’t mention sledge hammers, that I should leave them out – Well not on my watch!

Anyway, when you have some heavy duty whacking to do this is the piece of hand kit you need.

They can go up to 7.3kg (16lbs) and just like the big guy Drago in Rocky IV, anything it hits, it destroys. It’s not subtle but it gets the job done.

So when you absolutely, positively got to knock something down or break something up, a sledge hammer will do the trick.